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Note Taking

Discussion in 'Info, Requests, etc.' started by Rohann van Rensburg, Dec 10, 2017.

  1. Hey all,

    What approaches have you found to notetaking in masterclasses that you find to be particularly effective?

    Years of university meant I spent an awful lot of time scribbling notes and not paying enough attention in class. Great for regurgitating material on an exam, not so great for internalizing ideas.

    It was only after taking notoriously difficult psych statistic courses and upper level philosophy that I figured out it's a terrible way to learn (well, I knew this already, I had just never needed to deal with it for especially complex material). When you actually have to understand something, rather than remember it, one's strategy must change.

    Currently, I do the following (much thanks to the rather bright psychology professor I had in psychometrics):
    -Watch the class without taking notes the first time. Not necessarily all the way through, but when I stop my watching session, I write notes about important points I remember.
    -Always watch (at least the "core" segments of) each video at least 2-3 times (spread out over time in many cases, but still)
    -Jot down notes about main ideas I see emerging in each class and how they tie together
    -Write down questions that result from points raised, and look for answers
    And one of the most effective tools:
    -Find someone willing to listen to me yammer -- I find if I can effectively boil an idea down in such a way that I can teach it, however simply or concisely, to someone with no knowledge of the subject matter, I understand it much better.

    All of this is an iterative process, and your discipline may vary (mine sure does), but I've found this much more "organic" and effective than traditional notetaking, personally. This is all in addition to applying principles and trying them out (as well as transcribing as often as possible).

    Any other procedures/methods you folks find effective?
    1. Watch the class, take notes
    2. Immediately (and I mean not even getting up to take a piss) start utilizing what Mike's been talking about (unless it's business). Here's Johnny? Go and transcribe Korngold or Stravinski. Counterpoint? Go and write counterlines.
    • They don't have to full pieces, but that sure helps if it's composition or orchestration
    • It's very helpful if whatever you're doing encompasses all that's been talked about in the class (except no, it doesn't have to a rock ballad every time :D)
    I've always learned by doing, not by studying, so that's just my approach.

    Dive in head-first. Fail spectacularly.
    Do a bit better next time.

    This ensured me that I had a representation of that class both materially and in my mind as an experience that I was actively part of, as well as the video of the class and the notes.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  2. Maybe it's strange, but I find that scribbling notes selectively often helps me memorize/internalize stuff. Back in university I discovered that the single most effective thing I could do to prepare for an exam is rewrite all the notes I had, all by hand, carefully underlining/structuring them. Sometimes I even did it two times in a row for the same exam. The key is, of course, not to do this automatically, but rather giving each word plenty of "processing time" in your brain and paying attention to what you're writing -- here's where writing by hand (which makes you slower) and restructuring (which makes you thoughtful) helps.
    ...or maybe I'm just finding excuses to use my fountain pen in this digital age :)

    So, anyway, typically I:
    1. take notes as I watch the classes,
    2. I try to immediately apply whatever I remembered in "the day's piano-playing session"
    3. sometime later when I've accumulated a lot of notes, I sit down and write each note on a separate piece of paper and put these pieces into a binder. Having tried the stuff before really helps with restructuring and choosing where to separate the notes: very often I'm thinking about something in one way when I'm taking notes, and then I see it from a completely different angle after I've tried to apply it on the keyboard. So I expand on the wordings with my own associations.
    3. When I'm playing the keyboard and find myself stuck, I grab the binder and start opening it at random pages until some "tip" or "another way to look at things" inspires me and tells me what to try next. (got this idea from Oblique Strategies )

    The endgame that I hope to achieve with this (based on the experience in other disciplines) is that after practicing this enough, the ideas and "ways to look at things" and "directions to try to go in" etc.etc. will end up in my brain and there won't be any need to go to the notes.. because the brain works so much better with this.

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